So, without further ado, here's something about an interesting mainstream movie. Well, two movies, actually, and neither of them totally mainstream, but see for yourselves...
Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris is on everyone's list of influential erotic cinema masterpieces. Released in 1972, it was groundbreaking and of course highly controversial, paving the way for other films that brought sex and sexual obsession out of the porn ghetto and into the realm of "respectable art". Watching the movie today, one wonders what all the fuss was about. The "explicit" scenes have since been overshadowed by newer, more outrageous breaches of taboo. But more significantly, "Last Tango in Paris" remains a powerful film in its own right and a captivating love story that is at the same time sobering and strangely sweet.
It's interesting to note that, 35 years later, society hasn't made any real progress when it comes to accepting the exploration of sex in art or in the media. Sure, you can show a lot of things that you couldn't have put out there a generation ago. For one thing, music videos, TV series and advertising spots are crammed with tits. Huge, threatening tits! But that's not sex, it's titillation - neat, controlled and commercialized. When it comes to films that openly deal with sex between actual human beings, or even worse, with unusual sexual practices and relationships, we still get the same silly protests and debates. Secretary and Brokeback Mountain come to mind as recent examples, and The Dreamers, another film by Bertolucci.
Coming 30 years after "Last Tango in Paris", "The Dreamers" makes for an interesting companion piece. Both stories are set in the same city and chronicle the sexual (and other) obsessions of characters who try to shut out the world outside, to live only by their own rules. Each time, they fail as reality catches up with them.
The protagonist of "The Dreamers" is Matthew, a young American exchange student who comes to Paris during the turbulent spring of 1968. A shy loner who spends most of his time at the cinema, he becomes friends with Isabelle and her brother Theo, two French students who share his love of the movies. When their parents leave for a month, they invite Matthew to stay at their apartment. He learns of the intimate relationship between the siblings and is pulled into their world. The three seclude themselves from the events outside, and before long, their lives only consist of classic films, sex and conflicting emotions.
Together, the two movies provide an apt illustration of the sexual revolution and how we look back on it today. Where "Last Tango in Paris" was raw and radical, "The Dreamers" is tinted with poignant nostalgia. Overall, the latter work is lighter, more playful. But while "The Dreamers" is not a groundbreaking or important film, it is well worth seeing. I liked it a lot.
There aren't any kinky scenes in it, really, not in the classical sense. But Isabelle and Theo have an interesting game of "Do you dare?" going on, constantly trying to outdo each other. Here is a clip of what the naughty French girl makes her brother do when he loses a movie quiz. I think it's very elegant how she gets two birds with one stone here, savouring the victory over Theo while also shocking (and exciting) her American friend.
How about a spanking movie set in Paris? Anyone up for that? It wouldn't even have to be filmed there, as the story I have in mind is about a bunch of characters totally retreating from the outside world, most of it taking place in a seedy apartment. We just insert some stock footage of the Eiffel tower, and a few lines of dialogue in French. C'est une bonne idee, non?